A triple generation reunion: Children reunite their mother and her birth mom

A triple generation reunion: Children reunite their mother and her birth mom

EUGENE, Ore.–

Nearly 50 years ago, Zella Jackson Price was told that her premature baby girl had died soon after birth. Heartbroken, Price went home from the Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St. Louis without her baby.

Little did she know that the hospital had somehow confused her baby with another, and that her daughter, Melanie Gilmore, was adopted and raised by another family.

Both woman moved on – Price raising six other children, and Gilmore moving to Oregon and starting a family of her own. As a young adult, Gilmore tried to find her biological mother, but repeatedly met dead ends.

Years later, Gilmore’s own daughters took up the search, and found their grandmother through Facebook. DNA testing revealed a 99.9997 percent match between Gilmore and Price.

Gilmore’s children surprised her with the news and a video chat with Price. Overcome with emotion, Gilmore broke down sobbing at the sight of her mom. “I love you,” both women repeatedly said and signed, as Gilmore is deaf.

The heartwarming video received over 1.7 million hits:

“You could see how much joy she felt,” Gilmore’s daughter said. “She’s been lost and confused for so long. That next morning, she looked at peace with herself.”

Through a GoFundMe campaign, Gilmore’s family raised over $7,800 to visit Price in Missouri. Mother and daughter reunited face to face for the first time on April 9.

“She needs to know who her family is,” Gilmore’s daughter said. “She has missed out on these years. Visits are not going to cut it. She’s always wanted this. She’s so happy.

The families plan to make time to visit frequently.

“(God) has given me everything the devil has taken from me,” Price told Fox News. “I’m getting it back. I’m getting my baby back.”

“The Hunt is Over” engagement photo goes viral

“The Hunt is Over” engagement photo goes viral

Stevie Beard and Brady HogevillWhen Stevie Beard and Brady Hogevoll hired Oregon photographer Joshua Rainey to shoot their engagement photos, no one imagined the humorous shot would go viral in a matter of days.

Set amidst Hogevoll’s family property along the Siletz River, the now viral photo utilized a simple sign, a tractor, and a shotgun.

Unusual props for an engagement shoot, but for the soon-to-be-married couple the setup yielded an undeniably adorable outcome.

“I shot the photo on a property owned by Brady’s parents,” Rainey told BuzzFeed News. “The whole family is very into elk hunting and even hosts Make-A-Wish elk hunts on occasion.”

“Stevie and Brady came up with the idea and surprised me with it during engagement photos,” Rainey said. “We worked together to figure out how the image should look and set it up quickly before sunset.”

Stevie Beard and Brady HogevollThe Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, a wildlife conservation organization protecting natural habitats and traditional hunting, posted the photo to its Facebook page. Since then, the unique engagement shot has been shared over 30,000 times.

Rainey was thrilled with both the “incredible opportunity to photograph Stevie and Brady’s engagement photos” and the explosive popularity of the shot.

“It was rather tough to get the shot though, since Brady could only be upside down for a few minutes,” Rainey said. “Brady tied his own knots and got himself hooked up to the tractor and then his dad lifted him up slowly.”

Based in the greater Eugene area, Rainey and his family shoot everything from weddings and engagements to graduations and freelance work. When not traveling around Oregon for work, Rainey and his wife, Rachel, enjoy exploring the great outdoors with their 18-month-old son.

“We have always thought that photography is about more than just creating images, especially when it comes to photographing people,” Rainey’s website reads. “We want to get to know the people we are taking photos of just as much as we want to photograph them. The more we have a great time interacting, the better the photos will turn out. That’s just the way it is.”

5 ways to enjoy tonight’s national championship game

5 ways to enjoy tonight’s national championship game

The Oregon Ducks will face the Ohio Buckeyes in the national championship game tonight at 5:30 p.m. Cheer on the Oregon team with spirit and style with the following insider tips.

Marcus Mariota University of Oregon Ducks1. Get pumped up. Doubters talking trash? Come back with some of these encouraging stats ensuring the Ducks victory.

2. Find a place to party. Just because you didn’t catch a flight to Texas doesn’t mean you can’t cheer alongside fellow fans. The Beaverton Cinetopia will broadcast the game on its 70-foot high-definition screen. With free admission and in-seat food and drink service, the theater will be packed. Arrive early to snag a seat. Check out the dozens of eateries and pubs across Oregon that will be hosting game watching events, many with free admission.

“If we win, it’ll be the entire community of Eugene celebrating, not just the university,” UO student Akiva Hillman said. “People will probably celebrate from Monday to the following Monday.”

3. Get over the fashion faux pas. After fans protested the lack of green and yellow in the new Ducks uniform, supporters started tweeting: “There are only three kinds of people who look good in white: Jesus, Girls and Marcus Mariota.”

“The Ducks don’t really have a true uniform,” wrote Oregonian columnist John Canzano. “It’s why Oregon has the best uniforms in America. It’s why the toned-down look against a lunch-bucket program such as Ohio State is a beautiful inside joke.”

4. Buy the book. Think you know everything there is to know about the Oregon team? Think again. Rare Air couples award-winning sports photography and writing on Marcus Mariota’s career and the team’s journey to the national championship. Get your copy here.

5. Show Ducks spirit to win big. Post photos dressed in Ducks attire to The Oregonian’s Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook with #DucksSpirit for a chance to win a $500 Fred Meyer gift card.

Story of a storyteller: award-winning actor and storyteller shares his personal story

Story of a storyteller: award-winning actor and storyteller shares his personal story

It all began in eighth grade. It was the mid-1970’s and Christopher Leebrick was attending Roosevelt Junior High, “an experimental school in Eugene with an amazing curriculum. Students could take any classes they wanted with their parents’ permission,” he fondly recalled. He decided to “take a chance on Beginning Storytelling” and did so well he was invited to join the advanced class.

The advanced class included traveling around Oregon to tell stories. Leebrick and his classmates performed in nursing homes, schools, and even on TV. Leebrick said his teacher noticed he would “really immerse himself into the characters” and encouraged him to consider acting in plays.

The following year, he took his teacher’s advice and auditioned for the musical “Oliver!”. He was chosen for the role of Fagin, one of the main characters. It was his “first big show,” he said, and “[he] absolutely fell in love with theater.”

Today, Leebrick still tells many of the stories he originally told as a 13-year-old. He recorded one of these stories (The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allen Poe) and his CD won an award. Several other CDs have also won awards, including the international Storytelling World Awards, which are very difficult to win. He is now a traveling professional storyteller, entertaining audiences all over Oregon—and throughout the United States—at schools, libraries, festivals, and around campfires.

His favorite part of the job is independence and “being my own boss,” he said. He plans his schedule, which averages 120 performances a year, and enjoys traveling and performing for all ages, especially “middle school students who think they’re too old for stories.” He loves seeing “the child come out in senior citizens” while he tells stories.

Though Leebrick loves his work, he readily admits it can be stressful. “The downside is I don’t know what my life will look like in six months,” he said. “There’s always been work, but it’s a bit unsettling to always be hustling to line up jobs.”

The hardest part is the administrative details, Leebrick said. “I’ll send out a hundred emails and one to two percent yield work. It’s the old actor’s dilemma—you’re continually looking for work. Many actors choose to teach in a high school or college because of the insecurity.”

Though Leebrick is currently “taking a break from professional plays” and is no longer involved with the Lord Leebrick Theater Company that he and his best friend founded, he has many fond memories of characters he has portrayed.

His favorite role is Fagin in Oliver Twist. “It had been my first big role,” he said. “I played it a 2nd time in Summerstock in my late 20’s. I instinctively understood how to play that guy. I’ve played bad guys a lot,” he said, laughing.

“My hardest role was Macbeth,” he said. “I would say it is one of the three most challenging roles Shakespeare wrote (the others being Hamlet and King Lear). As a performer, you’re really taxed to the max because there are so many scenes, so little time off stage, so many emotions to portray, and a big fight at the end. It’s very, very challenging.”

Leebrick shares his love of acting with homeschool students through “Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits,” which was started in 1994 in Eugene. Leebrick was approached by a homeschool group and asked if he would work with them. He was happy to help, and the program was born. It is now a thriving annual class in Woodburn, Oregon.

Leebrick selects two contrasting Shakespeare plays for the students to perform and chooses six to seven scenes to focus on, as the class doesn’t have time to rehearse an entire play. He intertwines the scenes with his narration so the audience knows what’s going on. Up to twenty students are accepted each year from auditions. They attend rehearsals and perform the plays ten weeks later.

“Theater as an art form allows an audience to see what it means to be human—the good, bad, and ugly,” Leebrick said. “It exposes the human condition. Theater does it better than any other art form.”

For more information about Christopher Leebrick and his storytelling, visit his website.